Pelléas and Mélisande tells a story of forbidden love between its title characters, set in the fictitious kingdom of Allemonde. However the action offstage before the opera's 1902 premiere was just as dramatic.
In its original form, Rossini's William Tell went for five hours. Yet soon after its 1829 debut it was being cut for the comfort of its audience. Its Overture - a mere 12 minutes - has become one of the most famous pieces of classical music.
On September 29 1941, Nazis murdered more than 30,000 Jews in a ravine outside Kiev. Dmitri Shostakovich's 13th Symphony, Babi Yar, is a damning critique of the Soviet Union's lack of recognition of the massacre, and a condemnation of Stalinism.
Debussy's Clair de Lune, meaning 'moonlight', is one of the most easily recognised pieces of music, but its origins are complex. The piece was influenced by poetry, Baroque music and the Impressionist movement.
Johann Sebastian Bach's The Art of Fugue is a work of high art. But in keeping with the late works of artists such as Shakespeare, Beethoven and Goya, it contains elements of pathos, humour, gravity, exuberance and tragedy.